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Écrit par Jerome   


March 20, 2004

R. FEDERER/A. Agassi
4-6, 6-3, 6-4


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Andre.

Q. Did he steal it with that run for your volley?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, it turned out to be more crucial than it seemed at the time, 4-All, 40-15. Yeah, you know, I mean, played a good point, had the volley there. I felt like I hit the volley pretty much the way I wanted to. He looked like he was on the full stretch anyhow. But somehow he generated a lot of pace there, got that thing back up the line quickly. That obviously led to the break after that.

Q. Kramer said, "I would hope Andre, when he plays Federer, would be a little bit more aggressive -- do something bigger on the first two or three balls." He felt that the longer the rally went, the less your chances of winning decreased. He was also saying some beautiful things. Do you feel that way?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think against Roger, there's two options: to hit it to his forehand or hit it to his backhand. You know, you have to make Roger beat you with his backhand because it's definitely the weaker of the two shots. He can't really get away with the slice against me because I hit that shot pretty well. So I feel backhand to backhand I'm in great position against him. With that being said, he moves so well that if you don't hit your shot and execute it well, he sort of dances around it, has arguably the best forehand in the game. So I think as the points go on longer, assuming I'm hitting my shots and getting it to his backhand, I feel like the more it favors me. The more chances he gets to hit forehands, then he manages to swing the point in his favor. So I think it's less about the length of the point and more about the execution, depth and consistency of our shots.

Q. You missed an awful lot of first serves in the third set. Was this just trying to make it too good?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I didn't feel like ultimately it was too much of a struggle. I mean, he was putting pressure on me the whole match. I was trying to do the same to him. You know, I didn't feel like he was hurting my second too much. I was taking care of my serve fine. At 4-All, it was just unfortunate, things happened so quick out there. That's one thing that makes him a great player, is that he sort of strikes so quickly, you never know. He can play just a few minutes of great tennis, and that's enough to get himself over the hurdle. You know, he came up with a couple really good shots from 40-15. That was for me to go 5-4 in the third, not to mention I had two breakpoints, at the 4-3 game. But he came up with the goods. One he just hit the line. The other one he hit a forehand-up-the-line winner. He raised his game at the most crucial time. One or two points separated that match. That's the frustrating part. But it's also the good part, which is I'll make him do it again next time we play.

Q. There's a gigantic crowd there to see this match-up, they're very excited about it. At this point in your career after being involved for 18-plus years, do you still get excited about these opportunities to take a chance at Roger, the No. 1 player?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, no question. You know, I mean, like what I said for a long time, the thing that's most important to me is I'm making the best players in the world play their best tennis to win. That means there's still a look at the basket every time I'm on the court. No better time to prove that than like in a situation like this today. Yeah, it's easy to get excited about matches like this.

Q. Do you think Roger did play his best tennis today?

ANDRE AGASSI: You know, I mean, it's hard to say. I know he was a millimeter away from losing that match. That's what I know for sure. One point here, one, two points that changed the whole outcome of the match.

Q. Consistently you're going far in tournaments, big tournaments, small tournaments. I don't think you've won a title since April. Is that a concern for you that you're not getting over the hump or is it more just a matter of competing, seeing where your game is against the top players?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, sure, I mean, you always want to win. What else can I do? I'm out there giving it a go. It doesn't fall my way, there's not a whole lot I can do about it. I mean, I'm losing tough matches to great players. I've done that my whole career, so... Lose a lot of close matches. You just want to get over the hurdle in the most important events, and you want it all to happen and come together at those moments that are very rare. I'm still hopeful that can happen.

Q. Can you talk about the difference in Roger from this year to last year? Do you detect a certain confidence in his walk, the way he carries himself?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't really care how somebody walks on the court, but his game has improved tremendously over the years, but especially this last year. He's a great mover. His forehand has gotten really big. His backhand has gotten more consistent. I think he's gotten more effective of a serve, too. So he's made big strides forward, certainly deserves his place right now in the game.

Q. How does his game compare to Andy's? Juan Carlos is in there, but we're usually talking about Andy and Roger.

ANDRE AGASSI: How does it differ?

Q. At this point do you think Roger has a clear-cut better game?

ANDRE AGASSI: I think he's proven himself to be a cut above everybody right now. There's no question about that. He has a lot of weapons out there. I mean, Andy's one weapon is bigger than possibly anybody's in the game, which is an important weapon to have, which is his serve, because it's so crucial. But I think when guys get involved with Andy in other parts of the game, I think they're pretty comfortable. Roger is the kind of guy that never allows you to get comfortable, no matter what is going on out there.

Q. Is this one you'll take home with you?

ANDRE AGASSI: What does that mean?

Q. This loss.

ANDRE AGASSI: What do you mean?

Q. Will you think about this or just try to forget it?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I'll think about things I need to think about. What I could have done possibly a little different. You know, playing three matches at night, then all of a sudden playing in the day, the ball is moving a little quicker today. I was struggling more than I wanted to on the second serve return. Normally I'm pretty confident that when a guy hits a second serve, I can get into the point at least on equal terms and go from there. Today, I gave away a lot of free points, sort of check swinging on a few of the second serve returns, which normally doesn't happen for me. As the match goes on, you want him to hit less forehands, not more forehands. I'll try to remember that next time.

Q. Is it surprising or impressive that he's doing what he's doing right now without the benefit of a coach or a trainer, all the things that most players these days certainly find important?

ANDRE AGASSI: Yeah, I mean, I think he's learned the game well up to date. You know, I think not having a coach and doing what he's doing is a testament to his skill. I think no coach is better than an average coach. But a good coach is an asset that hopefully he won't have (smiling). I hope he continues.

Q. What do you mean "no coach is better than an average coach"?

ANDRE AGASSI: Well, I think, you know, the definition of sort of a coach, the responsibility of a coach is to understand your game and help you to understand better your game, to steer your game in the right way. And I think if you're going to give somebody that place and that responsibility, they need to make sure they deliver with making sure they're doing things to improve your game as opposed to de-prove. So little separates so many guys, that you can improve your weakness a touch and drop your strength a touch and you become an ordinary player. So I think when I say an average coach, if somebody's not doing the right things, they're doing the wrong things.

Q. Of the young guys that are around at the moment, who do you think would have the best chance of emulating what you did, having won the four Slams, to do something like that?

ANDRE AGASSI: Strictly on X's and O's and game, because you always leave room for, like I've said, a competitor's heart and mind. If you sort of had to break down a game, you'd say Roger. He's a guy that obviously has proven he can win at Wimbledon and Australia. Certainly the hard courts of the US Open are going to be comfortable for him. Now it's a function of clay. We've seen him win in some pretty thick conditions, in Hamburg. You know, he moves well. He still controls the point. He still can get in and do a lot of things. His game translates to many players, many environments. That's what you need to win them all.

Q. Do you know him at all off the court, long conversations with him?

ANDRE AGASSI: Not long conversations, no.

Q. What are your plans after Miami, leading up to the French Open?

ANDRE AGASSI: I don't know yet. I think I'm going to have to put some good thought to that. Again, it's always important I'm fresh and sort of mentally ready to pay the price, eager and all that. I'm not terribly convinced that the clay season's an important part to my career right now just because it always has a potential of taking more out of me than it gives me. I'll have to make sure I make those decisions carefully. I'll assess it after Miami.

Q. Would you actually skip it?

ANDRE AGASSI: It's possible. I wouldn't skip Paris.

Q. You wouldn't?

ANDRE AGASSI: No. I would need to go to Paris ready to just let it fly and hope a few things go right.

Q. That could be the possibility, Paris?

ANDRE AGASSI: Could be, yeah. Could be. I wouldn't be against it.

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